Azalea Queen excited about new role

Kelly Packard and daughter, Aubrey
Kelly Packard and daughter, Aubrey

FEBRUARY 10, 2005 -- The Azalea Festival has revealed its lineup of stars for this year's event, including a one-year-old princess named Aubrey. She'll be here with her mom, Queen Azalea LVIII, Kelly Packard.

You may remember Packard from the beaches on the long-running television show "Baywatch," or seen her on the internet. Now Kelly Packard is heading back to the beach to reign as Wilmington's Queen Azalea Festival 2005.

The New York actress first gained national attention on the NBC television show, "California Dreams," before starring on "Baywatch" for two years, then on "Ripely's Believe It or Not."  Now, she has a new role.

"Right now, I have been keeping busy being a mom," Packard told News 6. "I took time off to bond with her. Actually, right now, I'm starting to audition again."

At the Hilton Riverside, festival president Grady Richardson announced the other headliners for the 58th annual event.

Joining Packard, will be country music star Travis Tritt. The Grand Ole Opry sensation will put on a show at Trask Coliseum.

As for the queen, Richardson said Wilmington will love having Packard reign.

"I think she represents everything about what's good about why you want a queen for Azalea Festival and who you want," Richardson said. "She's accomplished and has a long career ahead of her."

The soon-to-be queen says she is excited about her trip to Wilmington. Her daughter, Aubrey, will turn one on April 6, the same day mom is crowned queen.

"I can't think of a more fun thing to do," Packard said. "I did pageants as a little girl. I always dreamed of pursuing that and of wearing a crown. So, to be a part of something like this is going to be really fun. And, to have my family there so we can celebrate her birthday in North Carolina. It's just going to be a wonderful time."

The kickoff to all the festival events is this Saturday. A party at the Hilton will start the countdown to Azalea Festival 2005.

Reported by Sara Straeten